Turner strong in debut for SeaWolves

Tigers' No. 1 prospect whiffs nine over six scoreless innings

Jacob Turner retired nine straight at one point in his first career Double-A start. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

By David Heck / Special to MLB.com | April 7, 2011 7:26 PM ET

If Jacob Turner was nervous making his Double-A debut Thursday, he certainly didn't show it.

The 19-year-old right-hander excelled in his Opening Day start with the Erie SeaWolves, allowing two hits while fanning nine and walking just one over six scoreless innings against the Altoona Curve.

Erie went on to win the game, 3-2, on a walk-off RBI single by catcher Bryan Holaday.

Turner, MLB.com's No. 15 prospect, opened the contest by striking out the first two Altoona batters.

"Definitely for me, if I get the leadoff hitter, it helps me settle down and find a groove," he said. "Obviously getting a strikeout allowed me to find that groove really fast, and it carried through the rest of the game."

The 2009 first-round pick only ran into trouble once, when he had baserunners on second and third with only one out in the second inning. But Turner buckled down and struck out the next two hitters.

"They got a couple baserunners on -- I threw a couple pitches that I didn't locate well," Turner said. "I knew I needed to get a big strikeout there. I was able to do it, and we got out of the inning. It was a big momentum swing our way, not allowing them to score."

After that, it was smooth sailing for the young right-hander, who is a month-and-a-half away from his 20th birthday. He allowed one baserunner in the third, and after hitting Tony Sanchez to lead off the fourth, Turner retired nine consecutive batters to end his day.

"I like to think that no matter who you're facing, you're going to be confident," Turner said. "Your stuff is good enough to get whoever out. A lot of that comes from pitching the past two years in big league Spring Training."

Turner left with a lead thanks to a two-run fifth-inning homer by Ben Guez. But Altoona's Quincy Latimore delivered a two-RBI double in the eighth that left Turner without a decision.

But Erie still left the park with the win, after Holaday grounded a walk-off single through the left side of the infield with two outs and a runner on second in the ninth.

Right-hander Lester Oliveros picked up the win after tossing two scoreless innings.

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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